Students display musical skill through solo and ensemble festival


Grace Kirtley

Junior Riley Berens performs marimba in front of the judges at the state solo and ensemble festival.

On April 27, many students from band, choir and orchestra participated in the state solo and ensemble festival. This year, the state level festival happened at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Band teacher Brad Balog said, “Solo and ensemble festival is a competition and a festival that we have for band, orchestra and choir, where kids prepare solos or small ensembles and they go perform for judges.”

On a district level, students receive a rating of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. One refers to the highest qualification and five is the lowest. Performers who receive 1 proceed onto the state level competition.

There are two criteria for the district level performances. The judges evaluate students based on their fundamental techniques and musical expressions. For the state level performances, the students do not have specific criteria to be judged but rather the judges leave feedbacks in the comment area.

Preparation for the festival requires practice. Junior Riley Berens is a percussionist in the wind ensemble. He trained himself before he performed his instrument, marimba, in front of the judges at the state level solo and ensemble festival.

“I prepared for my solo ‘Strive to be Happy’ by Ivan Trevino by literally practicing for sometimes hours a day, and taking every chance I could to perform in front of other crowds,” Berens said.

The practice centers around self-disciplined schedules and tutors, but the teachers at the music department also offers help for those students who want further help.

“We support it. We advertise it. We help students choose music. A lot of it is a private lesson for the solos. We are available and work with a lot of kids leading up to festival before and right after school as well, so we do help students prepare,” Balog said.

Berens expressed that he would like to pursue music even after high school.

“After high school, I intend on pursuing drum corps and eventually becoming a music teacher,” Berens said.